Question of the week: Saving money

Denise and El Chavo got me thinking recently about all the things our families did/do to save a buck.

Denise discussed outfitting her five seven kids in hand-me-downs. El Chavo bravely reviewed the unappetizing huevos rancheros breakfast burrito and discussed Chicanos’ longtime reliance on the breakfast burrito. The breakfast (or lunch) burrito is a cheap alternative to fast food.

My mom used both of these methods. She’d find name brand baby clothes at yard sales in the “heights” of Hacienda Heights. Lori got my old dresses (even if she didn’t look as cute as I did). My mom would make dresses for me and Lori and any store bought clothes came from the sale rack. As for burritos, we’d eat them on road trips. Trips to Disneyland meant packing sandwiches in a cooler and stepping out to the car for lunch. We never ate lunch in the park (but I think we might have been treated to a churro, but we had to share). I’m sure our tortas were much better than overpriced burgers.

La Pregunta: What did your parents do to save a buck or two? Have you continued any of these practices?


18 thoughts on “Question of the week: Saving money

  1. Big sacks of Rice and Beans. Always big sacks of Rice and Beans ready for the apocalypse. There may be food or financial problems, but we always got that big sack of Rice and that big sack of Beans.

    I’ve sort of continued with the medium (read Costco) sack variety.

  2. Santiago says:

    I remember going to Six Flags and having tacos de frijol con huevo. We always stepped out. My mom used to bring pop and popcorn from home at the movies. In the event, we went to the movies.

  3. I have 6 kids, cindylu! Including my stepson, we have 7! That’s why I rely on hand-me-downs so much. Other ways of saving money include living off that eternal pot of beans (bean and cheese burritos, bean and cheese tostadas, tacos with a teeny bit of carne and a lotta bit of beans, papas con bean burritos, bean soup, beans with rice, bean tacos with queso fresco–you get the idea). Never buying produce in bulk at Ralph’s or Von’s or Trader Joe’s–I always hit up my local mexican market. And I don’t think I have EVER sampled the snacks at the movie theater…it is always smuggled in some sort of backpack. 🙂

  4. we never ever ever ate out. My Mom had a strict grocery budget of $100 every 2 weeks. And she somehoe managed to feed a family of 5 for 2 weeks on that! I will never know how she did it!

  5. Momo says:

    at 7 years old, when my parents just bought our house, I remember going on long walks with my mom collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles from the our new hometown’s trash cans. Even though my parents owned a house and I was eventually enrolled in private school, my parents made me realize very early that money doesn’t grow on trees and that the only reason that we have what we have is because we do not spend it frivolously. Our Disneyland meal was broiled chicken with bbq sauce packed cold in aluminum foil and stuffed in a cooler in the trunk of the car. We NEVER went to Acapulco’s without a buy-one-entree-get-the-second-one-50%-off-coupon and we ALWAYS shared meals. We grew our own cilantro, oregano, hierbabuena, chiles, tomatos and cebollitas in the backyard.

  6. When I was a little kid, when my father went to the supermarket, he’d come back with Doritos and Soft Batch Cookies and multiple brands of cereal. Then we bought a second car.

    First went the Doritos. Then my brother and I had to learn to love Frosted Flakes. The Soft batch gave way to C-Town brand cookies.

    I think that’s why when I went to college, I always lost my mind at the supermarket.

  7. AJ says:

    I think my experience is very much a side effect of being an only child. There were no hand me downs and they really spared no expense when it came to me, but they never really had to…and that’s what I learned from them. They’re great investors–to them it’s more a matter of multiplying their bucks than saving them. Thankfully, I’ve learned to continue the practice.

  8. Empty sour cream or margarine containers double as tupperware, plus it’s the og way to recycle. Mole jars as glasses, cuz they’re just going to break them anyways. Free museum days and the local wilderness are great, cheap thrills!

  9. Our collection of Mole-jar cups is getting numerous. Have to start giving them as “ethnic” gifts. However, my wife remembers her abuela having a set of juice glasses similar to ours. Using bacon grease for the eggs and frijoles, cutting only the moldy part off a vegetable and using the rest, beans and corn tortillas being a meal, growing our own food.

  10. Mole jars were the drinking glasses
    My dad made me a base bat that lasted until I played with the bigger kids and they didn’t use tennis balls
    We also sneaked food into the movies and Disneyland and Magic Mountain, we were good smugglers
    I’ve taught my daughter how to smuggle food and drinks into the movies, I put my arm around her and she holds it in the hand between us LOL!
    We shopped at El Piojito across from Mac Arthur Pk.
    Today is it still considered cool to shop at segundas, ooops I mean vintage stores and Goodwill? Well I do get some cool stuff and deals.
    My only splurge is Trader Joe’s and farmer’s markets, TRYING to avoid hormones and pesticides.

  11. chidolitis says:

    Yea we always brought our own food to theme parks. Getting the little UV stamp on your hand was part of the whole experience! My mom also tends to go to tiendas de segunda or as she calls them “Los viejitos”! 😀

  12. Hmmm.. That is such an interesting question.

    I don’t necessarily think my parents were frugal, but I think we genuinely couldn’t afford much of anything. We really never had any Disneyland trips, or anything like that. Then again, we never asked for much as we were taught that what we had was more than most people had.

    I think perhaps this has molded me into what I am today. I’m still a kid at heart and I have purchased all the toys I wanted as a kid now (as an adult). So I have never really kept up with their non spending ways because of choice… I have just always been careful to differentiate between “luxuries” and “necessities”.

  13. lo says:

    I didn’t notice before but can appreciate now:

    My mom and great aunts made me the most beautiful clothes, I think that is why the cost of ‘couture’ seems silly.

    And as for the men in my family, in Mexico you always purchased the entire bottle, it was not ‘table service’ with all its silly fees just drinking smart!

  14. gffgdf says:

    Hehe, here’s frugality Japanese style: Straining used frying oil into a mayo jar, and re-using it a few more times, adding new oil or even mixing in different meat for flavor. It’s like the “olympic flame” of fried food. Loose tea, but brew it three or four times. Rice balls with a salted plum in it – the only wrapped food cheaper than a bean burrito. Reuse any soup for noodles, and even save soy sauce. Reuse everything that’s “disposable”; dispose of things only after they’ve been used as some kind of trash can. Bleach cleans anything.

    Oh yeah, there’s also Southern style frugality: Drink out of jars. Piss in a jug, and use it as fertilizer after it’s aged. Save the bacon grease for “flavor.” Cook up the vegetable stems in your stew. Save twigs and branches to build fences. Burn your trees for the BBQ (only hardwoods) or the fireplace (everything else). Gasoline or kerosene to clean grease off metal things. Thick, industrial acid instead of “Drano.”

    We weren’t poor. Just working class or “lower middle class” and not wasting money.

    People into this thread might like the frugality blogs out there like wisebread.

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